It may come as a surprise to Hoosier drivers, but Indiana ranks No. 1 among the 50 states for infrastructure in a new survey.
If Twitter posts are any indication, the ranking is leaving some Indiana residents incredulous.
CNBC, the cable financial news network, rated all 50 states for their business climates. Infrastructure is one of 10 categories in the ratings.
Overall, Indiana ranked a solid 11th, and the report shows us where we’re strong and where we need to raise our game.
The infrastructure rating measures more than just the quality of our pavement, or we might not have such a lofty score.
According to CNBC, its infrastructure rank includes “the value of goods shipped by air, waterways, roads and rail,” availability of air travel, quality of roads and bridges, and the time it takes to commute to work. It measures the population within a day’s drive of each state, as well as the condition of drinking water and wastewater systems.
As for the quality of our roads and bridges, a trip through the many construction zones around the state will show that we’re trying to improve and not resting on our laurels.
Indiana also scored well with CNBC on “the cost of doing business,” in which we rank fourth. In that category, CNBC said it looks at tax climate, state-sponsored incentives, utility costs, wages and the costs for office and industrial space.
Among our neighboring states, Michigan ranked 24th overall, with Illinois 30th. Ohio is giving us stiff competition for business with its 10th-place rating.
Kentucky rates 39th overall, despite its first-place rank in the cost of doing business and No. 2 ranking in infrastructure.
Indiana would score even higher if we could improve our rankings in three areas. We rate 44th in quality of life, 32nd in education and only 29th in workforce.
“One way to attract qualified workers is to offer them a great place to live,” CNBC said. It scored states on crime rate, health care, health insurance coverage and overall health of the population. (Snuff out those smokes, Hoosiers.) It evaluated local attractions, parks and recreation and environmental quality.
If you were skeptical about all the money Indiana has been spending on “quality of life” projects such as trails and parks, it looks like they’re more than fluff. We hope Hoosier leaders will notice that environmental quality actually can be a pro-business factor.
“Education and business go hand in hand,” CNBC said. “Not only do companies want to draw from an educated pool of workers, they also want to offer their employees a great place to raise a family.” Indiana needs to continue its efforts to catch up with teacher salaries in neighboring states.
Quality of life is not everything when it comes to CNBC’s survey, however. Hawaii ranks first in that category (to no one’s surprise), but 49th overall in business climate. The second-place state in quality of life, Vermont, ranks only 40th overall.
Indiana should have received more points for the state’s outstanding fiscal health. A report last week showed that a strong economy has boosted the state’s surplus from $2 billion to $2.3 billion. That makes it unlikely that state taxes will need to be raised anytime soon.
Hoosier leaders can take pride in the state’s 11th-place rank for business, but we hope they are paying attention to areas where we can do even better.
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board. We welcome readers’ comments.